The plunge in oil prices may jeopardize almost $125 million of securitized loans backed by real estate in North Dakota, as drillers in the state scale back operations, Morningstar Credit Ratings LLC said.
The rating company said that the debt, which has been put on its watch list in the past 24 months, represents more than a third of almost $340 million of commercial mortgage-backed securities tied to the shale hubs of North Dakota. The loans, created in 2013 and 2014, “have run into trouble as the slump in oil prices weighs on demand for commercial real estate in the oil and gas patch hubs of North Dakota,” Morningstar said in a report issued Wednesday.
The Williston area of North Dakota commanded some of the highest apartment rents in the country when oil prices were booming, drawing investment in new buildings to accommodate an influx of workers since 2006. The reversal in oil prices has prompted tens of thousands of job cuts, hurting demand for housing and other real estate in energy hubs such as Williston, Houston and Calgary.
The four largest North Dakota loans on Morningstar’s watch list are in special servicing, the company said. It forecast combined losses of about $16.5 million should three of those loans be liquidated. The three were used to finance the Strata Estate Suites apartment complexes in Watford City and nearby Williston, the Value Place Williston hotel and the Roosevelt East Apartments in Williston.
The Strata Estate loan reported an appraisal in November that was 65 percent less than when the debt was issued in 2013. Morningstar said it isn’t forecasting a loss on the fourth loan, tied to hotels in Minot, because of property improvements it expects will help the buildings retain their value.